My post Wednesday about baseball got me thinking about the 2018 players approved for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The final votes were announced late yesterday. I chose to talk about this current event to maintain some sort of entertainment rather than the usual insanity of politics.
Only 4 former players made it in based on the process to be inducted into the Hall of fame. The four players selected were: Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome.
If you’re not familiar with the process, candidates are selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Basically to qualify, a player must have begun play between five to fifteen years prior to the election, they must have been retired at least five years prior to the election, and they should have made a significant contribution to the game of baseball during their career. The official qualifications are somewhat more detailed, but this is just a summary. Players receiving at least 75% of the votes are automatically elected. Players must earn 5% of the votes to continue to be eligible on ballots in successive years.
The 2018 ballot included 33 players, with fourteen meeting the 5% floor to stay on the ballot from previous elections. Now let’s get to my analysis of those elected and those not.
3B Chipper Jones
Chipper is not really a surprise on this list. He was well-liked in Atlanta and elsewhere. He never really had any off-the-field distractions that BBWAA writers like to scrutinize and penalize players for in their voting. Jones is one of a growing minority of recent players to remain with one team their entire career. I’ve always thought that Chipper was deserving of any award and he received, so this is a solid decision by BBWAA electors.
RP Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman is part of a new type of pitcher that BBWAA electors are starting to recognize. The idea of a pitcher coming in every day to pitch one inning was not easily accepted by old-school baseball men. Now watch any sort of MLB analysis and you’ll hear about the bullpen woes of various teams. Teams are always on the lookout for a solid pitcher who can get outs quickly to slot into the closer role. Hoffman was twice a runner-up for Cy Young, almost unusual for a reliever. Hoffman ranks with the top relievers in baseball including HOF reliveve Bruce Sutter. Hoffman again like Jones, was a guy that was respected by all players and writers. I agree with Hoffman’s selection to the HOF. I wouldn’t have minded having Hoffman pitch for the Cubs during their various bullpen struggles.
OF/DH Vladimir Guerrero
Big Bad Vlad broke in with the now defunct Montreal Expos. A power hitter that terrified pitchers with his bat. Guerrero had a legendary strike zone as small as a refrigerator or as large as a Honda Civic. Vlad was never afraid to swing at anything that came within a yard of the end of his bat. While that sounds foolish, Vlad could usually make contact with those pitches. Again, a guy that BBWAA writers and fans loved based on his large frame, large home runs, and an equally large personality. I’m not surprised by his inclusion in the HOF either. I can only imagine if he would have been given the chance to mash with Sosa et al. on the cubs in the early part of this millennium.
1B/DH//3B Jim Thome
Thome broke in with the Cleveland Indians in 1991, and spent more than a decade with the team, along with productive years in Philadelphia and Chicago. Thome benefited from years of playing in the AL and their unique attraction — the DH. Thome like the other 3 mentioned, not surprisingly was respected by players and writers alike. I was a little surprised at Thome, but he had a solid career with lots of power. To Thome’s credit, his numbers never seemed to be questioned as a product of chemical aids like others during the same time of his career.
OF Barry Bonds, P Roger Clemens, P Curt Schilling
I grouped these three together because the BBWAA has repeatedly kept these three out based on accusations of Performance Enhancing Drugs. These three have all denied usage of such substances and have also been polarizing in their personalities. I’ll admit that I’ve had my problems with Bonds and Clemens to be sure, but I’m reminded that a drop of HGH or testosterone don’t usually affect hand-eye coordination needed to make contact with the ball or cause a batter to miss. Looking purely at numbers and not all the circus outside of it, the BBWAA should vote at least Bonds and Clemens in. Even if some writers can’t swallow that, that’s what an asterisk (*) is for, right Bud Selig?
OF Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon getting snubbed and not even making the 5% cutoff in his first year is baffling. He played remarkably for Oakland, Boston, and New York in almost twenty years of play. With Boston and New York he was able to win World Series titles. Damon compared to other players should be in the HOF. Per Baseball Reference, Damon compares to these 10 players. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are in the HOF already. Damon was a fun player, that everybody liked and was productive most of his career.
- Vada Pinson
- Steve Finley
- Paul Molitor *
- Tim Raines *
- Roberto Alomar *
- Al Oliver
- Robin Yount *
- Lou Brock *
- Bobby Abreu
- Roberto Clemente *
OF Sammy Sosa
He hit much home runs. He a Cub. Let him in.
SS Omar Vizquel
The most recognizable shortstop from Venezuela since Luis Aparicio, Vizquel grew up watching his countryman excel in MLB. Vizquel requested permission to wear Aparicio’s 11 during his tenure with the White Sox. Vizquel was a solid contact hitter and plus defender. He was also well-liked by everyone in baseball circles, and is still contributing as a coach. As with Damon, 10 players most similar to Vizquel as rated by Baseball Reference, and again asterisk indicates HOF player:
- Luis Aparicio *
- Rabbit Maranville *
- Ozzie Smith *
- Bill Dahlen
- Dave Concepcion
- Luke Appling *
- Pee Wee Reese *
- Nellie Fox *
- Jimmy Rollins
- Herman Long
Thankfully for Vizquel, he got halfway to the necessary 75% needed, so there’s hope.
What are your thoughts? Do you disagree with some of the snubs?